Displaying items by tag: direct indexing

Saturday, 08 June 2024 12:12

Investors Aren’t Maximizing Direct Indexing

Direct indexing is increasingly popular as investors seek personalized options and lower costs. This method, which involves owning a representative sample of securities in an index, offers benefits like reduced costs, individual tax lot ownership, and increased tax efficiencies.


However, to fully realize these benefits, direct indexing should be implemented within a single multi-manager account (UMA) rather than standalone accounts. This approach allows for effective tax loss harvesting, consistent exposure to the reference index, and avoids disallowed losses due to wash sales. 


Managing a portfolio within a UMA also simplifies administration and enhances rebalancing and asset allocation efficiency. When switching firms, advisors can use UMAs to minimize capital gains taxes for clients by absorbing satellite holdings into the core direct index.


Finsum: We know the benefits of tax-alpha but these account types could give investors an additional edge.

Published in Wealth Management
Tuesday, 04 June 2024 07:54

Some Advisors Slow to Embrace Direct Indexing

A survey of 631 financial advisors conducted by RIA Channel and FTSE Russell reveals that 79% of financial advisors do not currently use or offer direct indexing, although nearly half plan to begin adoption within the next five years. 

The survey shows that direct indexing’s growth remains in its infancy despite more awareness among advisors and clients. It also shows that many advisors are unfamiliar with direct indexing and unprepared for the shift in wealth management towards more personalized offerings. 

Among the respondents who offer direct indexing, 64% cited ‘tax loss harvesting’, 56% noted ‘tax efficient transitions’, and 40% acknowledged 'reducing concentration risk’ as major benefits of the strategy. Notably, 34% of advisors don’t feel confident talking to clients about direct indexing, despite offering the service.

In fact, the survey shows that 28% of advisors “don’t understand the benefits over other investment options,” while 27% believe the same goals can be reached with a portfolio of ETFs, and 20% see it as equivalent to separately managed accounts. 

In terms of obstacles, 34% said there was a ‘lack of client demand’, and 29% noted a lack of ‘understanding and knowledge of direct indexing’. Other factors cited were an absence of ‘organizational focus’ and ‘cost’.

Clearly, more needs to be done to educate advisors about the opportunity embedded in direct indexing to provide a personalized experience and help clients optimize their tax situations.

Finsum: Direct indexing is becoming increasingly ubiquitous; however, there is still a big gap when it comes to education. Here are some insights from a recent survey on what is preventing some advisors from adopting the strategy. 

Published in Wealth Management

Traditionally reserved for the wealthy, direct indexing has become more widely accessible thanks to technological advancements. This investment strategy involves owning the individual stocks in an index such as the S&P 500, which allows investors to sell off underperforming stocks to generate tax losses—a technique known as tax-loss harvesting.


 According to Frec, a direct-indexing startup, a simulated S&P 500-based portfolio could boost after-tax annual returns by more than 2% over a decade, compared to an ETF, assuming a tax rate of 42.3% and excluding advisory fees. 


Firms like Charles Schwab, Vanguard, and Fidelity now offer direct-indexing services with various account minimums and fee structures, lowering the entry barrier for average investors. With the market for direct indexing expected to reach $825 billion in assets by 2026, this approach is set to become increasingly popular among a broader range of investors.

Finsum: Computing power has drastically driven down the costs of Direct Indexing allowing more investors to gain its tax alpha. 

Published in Wealth Management
Thursday, 30 May 2024 11:37

Pros and Cons of Direct Indexing

A major trend in wealth management is the rise of customized products and services. Direct indexing is essentially a personalized equity or bond index. 

In terms of benefits, direct indexing gives more control over the timing of realizing capital gains for maximum tax-efficiency. Unlike ETFs or mutual funds, tax losses can be harvested and then used to offset capital gains with direct indexing. According to research, this can boost after-tax returns between 1% and 2%. 

It also allows clients to invest in a way that aligns with their values and/or unique financial situation. This could mean not including stocks from a particular industry, such as tobacco or firearms. It also allows for better risk management, as exposure to certain stocks or sectors can be more effectively managed. 

In terms of drawbacks, a major chunk of direct indexing’s benefits are due to tax savings. However, this is less relevant in a retirement account. Another complication is that short-term losses cannot offset long-term gains. 

Another is the ‘wash sale rule’ which means that investors cannot sell and then repurchase the same security within 30 days. One workaround is to buy securities with similar factor scores to remain consistent with the underlying benchmark. 

Finally, direct indexing has become available to a wider group of investors in recent years due to technology and low-cost trading. However, it’s still most impactful for investors in a higher tax bracket, long-term capital gains, and large, concentrated positions. 


Finsum: Direct indexing is increasingly popular, especially as it’s becoming available to more investors. However, the strategy is most applicable for investors in a higher tax bracket, large concentrated positions, and long-term capital gains. 

Published in Wealth Management

According to Cerulli, wealth management firms vying for high-net-worth clients should increase their focus on personalization and private markets. With traditional wealth management, it’s increasingly challenging for advisors to differentiate their services. Additionally, it doesn’t fully meet the needs of clients, especially given unprecedented amounts of uncertainty in terms of the economy, monetary policy, and geopolitics.

A consequence of this uncertainty is unpredictability in terms of return and risk in terms of major asset classes, highlighting the need for effective asset allocation. The report also showed that direct indexing is utilized by 55% of advisors who are looking to provide active management and customization to clients. 

The firm also projects growth for separately managed accounts given high net worth investors’ growing demand for customization and private market investments. As a result, these trends underscore the need for effective account aggregation and performance reporting. 

This enables the alignment of solutions across different areas such as financial planning, investing strategy, banking, estate planning, etc. Equally important, this type of comprehensive reporting and consolidation eases the transition to having higher allocations to alternative investments. 

Finsum: Cerulli conducted a survey of advisors and high-net-worth clients. The findings highlight the importance of providing access to private markets and personalized services.

Published in Wealth Management
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